R&B/future soul up-and-comer NoMBe has been making waves ever since his single “California Girls” dropped on Soundcloud last spring. He’s only released two songs publicly since, and both last year: “Miss Mirage” in July and “Kemosabe” in November. Although the first two received music videos shortly after their release, the video for Kemosabe was conspicuously absent until this past week, when it premiered on Noisey.
The video turns the song on its head – a far cry from the artist’s current location in Los Angeles, it takes place in New York City’s Chinatown. The video interlopes clips of NoMBe being driven through the neighborhood by a limo driver with footage from the driver’s private life, exposing his marital turmoil to the viewer but presumably not to the passenger herself. “This visual is supposed to capture the emotion of the song from a new, maybe even unexpected perspective; our goal was to re-interpret what ‘She made damn sure we never gon’ be friends’ can mean to another person,” the artist, real name Noah McBeth, explained to Kim Taylor Bennett of Noisey.
It’s a noble intent for a music video; the lyrics he references certainly mean something different to a person in their twenties, like McBeth himself, than they do to someone fifteen or twenty years older, like the cab driver. The video opens up an accessibility and universality that isn’t a feature in the song, and leaves the viewer to interpret the song in whichever way is most applicable to them. Instead of taking the typical direction of music videos, which is to force context, Kemosabe removes the presumed context, forcing imagination.
– Carolyn Hanson